WESTCHESTER, Ill. - Insomnia together with post-deployment adjustment disorders among returning war veterans is as severe as patients suffering from chronic insomnia, according to a research abstract that will be presented on Tuesday at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).
The study, authored by Colleen Walsh, of the University of Pittsburgh, focused on a sample of 14 veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) with post-deployment adjustment disorders, whose data were compared to that of 14 insomnia patients and 14 good sleepers, both groups of which were free of medical and psychiatric disorders.
According to the results, returning OIF veterans endorsed significantly more severe disruptive nocturnal behaviors, such as nightmares and body movements, than both patients with insomnia and good sleepers. Insomnia complaints in returning veterans were as severe as complaints endorsed by insomnia patients. Sleep quality was significantly worse in veterans than in good sleepers.
"These findings highlight the urgent need for sleep-focused assessments and treatments in this new group of combat-exposed military veterans," said Anne Germain, Ph.D., the principal investigator of the study.
Insomnia is a classification of sleep disorders in which a person has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early. It is the most commonly reported sleep disorder. About 30 percent of adults have symptoms of insomnia.
It is recommended that adults get between seven and eight hours of nightly sleep.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers the following tips on how to get a good night's sleep:
- Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
- Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
- Get a full night's sleep every night.
- Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.
- Do not bring your worries to bed with you.
- Do not go to bed hungry, but don't eat a big meal before bedtime either.
- Avoid any rigorous exercise within six hours of your bedtime.
- Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.
- Get up at the same time every morning.
Those who suspect that they might be suffering from insomnia, or another sleep disorder, are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician or a sleep specialist.
The annual SLEEP meeting brings together an international body of 5,000 leading researchers and clinicians in the field of sleep medicine to present and discuss new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders.
More than 1,000 research abstracts will be presented at the SLEEP meeting, a joint venture of the AASM and the Sleep Research Society. The three-and-a-half-day scientific meeting will bring to light new findings that enhance the understanding of the processes of sleep and aid the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.
SleepEducation.com, a patient education Web site created by the AASM, provides information about various sleep disorders, the forms of treatment available, recent news on the topic of sleep, sleep studies that have been conducted and a listing of sleep facilities.